Doesn’t it seem like a lot of our lives are devoted to waiting? Think about it... in the morning, we wait for the water to heat up, wait for the toaster to pop, wait for the bathroom to be free and wait to find out if it’s a snow day or not. We wait for the kids to get their socks and shoes on, wait for a good song on the radio, wait at the red light, wait for coffee in the drive through and then wait for that guy to take his sweet time pulling out of our parking space. We wait for that lady to read the nutrition label on every single can of soup twice before making a choice so we can grab the one we’ve been staring at for 27 minutes and then we wait for that same lady to be the only human being on planet earth who still writes checks. We wait on prescriptions as well as roller coasters and we can’t wait for our favorite movie to be released. In the late eighties, some of us were even “Waiting on a Star to Fall.”
By the way, has anyone found the loophole when it comes to the waiting room at a doctor’s office? I mean, some people say you have to get there 15 minutes early or you’ll have to wait for an hour, but I’ve arrived over 30 minutes early and had to wait longer than an hour. On the other hand, I’ve had times where I’ve arrived right on time or a couple minutes late and by the time I’m done with the co-pay, they were calling my name! It doesn’t even help to sit down in the waiting room and count the people who were already there, mentally blocking the ones who arrive after you to figure out when you will go, because they skip the line half the time! Then there is the awkwardness of all the other folks in the waiting room... do I talk to them? Do I pretend they don’t exist? Do I try to become friends or simply refuse eye contact? Do I tell them their kid is cute even though mine is way more cute? I mean, what in the world are we supposed to do during all this waiting?!
This morning I read a really cool couple of verses in Luke 23. This was right after our Lord was crucified. Luke says, “Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.”
The thing that really struck me about this passage was the way Luke said Joseph was “waiting for the kingdom of God.” Usually waiting means doing nothing... I would have thought waiting for the kingdom of God might mean sitting around on your hands just waiting for God to make this thing happen, but that’s not the way Joseph waited! Luke says that his waiting involved a whole lot of action! He stood up to the rest of the Sanhedrin when he thought they were wrong. When Jesus was dead, He stood up in Pilate’s face and asked for the body. Then he tenderly wrapped the body and placed our Lord in his own brand new tomb.
It turns out that the Greek word we’ve translated “waiting” is used other places in the New Testament and the other times it’s used, it’s translated “looking for,” “accepting” and even “receiving” like in Luke 15:2 when they criticized Jesus because they said, “This man receives sinners.” It’s the same word! Joseph of Arimathea wasn’t just sitting on his can waiting for the kingdom! No, he was looking for the kingdom, accepting what the kingdom means, receiving what kingdom folks have to go through! He was standing up for what’s right even though people didn’t like him because of it! He was tenderly showing love to Jesus when no one else was looking and even when no one else was around. I want to be like that! I want to wait like he did!